5 Things Canadian Exporters Should Know While Planning Expansion to European Markets
Maksym Bezorudko / 10.03.2017507
As Canadian market is growing, the government tries to support entrepreneurs through various programs that create an enabling environment for start-ups and small businesses. During the period of growth and booming economic activity, it is not uncommon for Canadian companies to set their sights on expanding sales and pushing their products/services to the new markets - like the one that’s across the pond. The European market, with its ancient roots and turbulent modern history, is extremely attractive for North American companies yet rather competitive.
Europe wouldn’t be itself if they weren’t doing things differently there - at times, way too different from what we are all used to here. What are these differences and how to deal with them while expanding your business to the European market? Read on to find out.
Before we start though, a few words about who we are - we are a major web development and digital marketing agency with over 8 years of experience in the European market. We haven’t just read about those things - we’ve been there, seen it and done it all. Now we would love to share some of our experience and knowledge with you so that your European expansion would go smoothly and successfully.
We’ve summed up our thoughts in these five tips.
- Product/service quality: it matters A LOT
People in Europe can really tell a mediocre product from a quality one as the local traditions of quality extend way back in the Medieval. Many businesses (not just the big companies but also the small ones) have been family-run for centuries and have got their brands established and renowned for their particular quality and service.
Thankfully, Canadian products (unlike some products from the US) are generally highly regarded by European consumers so that shouldn’t pose a huge problem. However, be prepared to demonstrate some extra efforts to win over the customers’ hearts.
European consumers would rather prefer a high-priced product with exclusive features and design than compromise for a bland, mid-priced item. High-quality products of individual design stand a much better chance here.
- Business packaging and products visuals: SLEEK, STYLISH, and CONTINENT
Want a quick idea of a successful European brand? IKEA! Their packaging and design speak for itself - nothing too flashy or outrageous. Comfort, style, and subtle beauty.
To adapt your current business to European ideals, start by replacing the photos and videos on your website. Make sure they look and sleek yet natural as possible. Do not overuse templates - every penny spent on quality images and videos for your products/services will be worth a dollar.
Video stories and motion effects are gaining popularity so it would be a shame not to utilize them. Pay additional attention to how easy your website is to navigate - all the UI elements should be well-placed and easy to access with no fancy gimmicks just for the sake of such.
European consumers will easily dismiss your brand for simply not having a pleasant website. Yes, people in Europe often judge a book by its cover - but then again, don’t we all sometimes?
- Top 3 Most Effective Advertising Channels: Instagram, Facebook, and Google Adwords
Continuing the look-over-substance trend that we’ve mentioned in the previous point, no wonder that Instagram is so popular among European marketers. Making your product or service look sexy on Instagram is a skill you’d better practice before entering the European market.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is just as important, although it may take longer for a website to achieve high positions on the search engine results page (SERP) in Europe than in North America.
- Time of decision-making
As demanding as they are, Canadian customers are nowhere near their European counterparts in terms of customer service expectations. In Europe, decisions are made ever-fast as people resent just the thought of waiting, let alone not getting a reply. 24/7 online communications channel is a good way to start. Let people know that if they ever need help from you, they will get within seconds - Europeans just love that.
- Personal relations with your client
In Canada, especially in small cities/communities, in order to receive a client, you often need to know this him/her personally. Your company being referenced to friends/relatives by a client of yours is also a way to go.
In Europe, personal relations with a customer will also make your business process easier - however, they don’t play that big of a role there. People would often start working with you even if they don't know you in person.
Be sure to consider these tips when planning an expansion to the European market. This will help you save some time, efforts, and money while making your advertising campaign successful.